Atlas. Oh, my dobo boy.
It took days, months for me to have a positive outlook on Atlas’ birth. A few months ago, I had a complete shift in how I felt about his birth and learned so much about myself, my faith and accepting how perfect his birth was. I have my friend Roxy to thank for sharing her amazing birth story (67 hour home birth people. I know. She’s a champion.). Through all her struggles in labor, she remained so faithful to the Lord and surrendered to God’s will and it made me really have to think about Atlas’ birth and how I was projecting only negativity upon it. So here it is.
Friday, April 5th
Every night before I went to bed the last couple weeks before I had Atlas, I would be riddled with anxiety, fear, and so much stress at the thought of going into labor that I would often go to bed, hoping and praying that tonight wasn’t the night. I even ended up making a list of affirmations to help me cope with the inevitable: I will have to birth a baby. Again. ( Oliver’s story – which can use a re-write, but alas, earwax that’s for another time).
So earlier in the day Oliver and I went to Target to pick up a few things but that didn’t last long seeing as I felt the need to immediately get back to my den home and out of this nauseating, florescent light hell. As I was keeling over the cart I thought, you know, this is how I felt the day before I had Ollie. Maybe I shouldn’t be out.
10pm: Later on that night, Daniel and I were watching The Walking Dead and as soon as the episode finished I needed to go to bed. I prayed for no Walking Dead nightmares, and fell asleep at 10.
11pm: I was very quickly awoken at 11 by a coughing, stuffed nosed Ollie. As soon as I got him back to sleep I had my first contraction. I tried to stay in bed (seeing as I had only slept for an hour), but I couldn’t sit still during them and I didn’t want to risk waking Ollie up.
Saturday, April 6th
1am: So I moved to the bathroom and hung out in there until about 1am. At this point they were maybe 10 min apart and I wanted to hold off waking Daniel so he wouldn’t be too tired (good thinking on my part because if I saw him yawn while I was in labor I would have probably kicked him out). I got too excited and knew since it was my second it would most likely be quick so I woke him up and called one of my midwives to let her know that I was in early labor. I was in such a positive mood. So excited to see my baby soon, proud of how well I was managing the contractions. I even remembered to have Daniel take one last photo of me pregnant.
I got in the shower and even decided to shave my legs thinking, “Ha! Can’t believe I’m shaving my legs in labor”. I sat on the ground of the shower and kept thinking about The Walking Dead. Kept thinking about Lorie (and continually pushing her out of my mind). I got out of the shower, braided my hair and waited for things to pick up. Contractions eventually were around 6 minutes apart and then jumped to 3ish apart so I called my midwife again and she decided to head on over.
4:30am: Midwife arrives and I’m feeling pretty tired, but great! The contractions are strong, but I’m starting to get these huge breaks so part of me is worried that labor is slowing down, but also hopeful that I’m just being blessed with an easy labor and it’ll all be over before Ollie wakes up. So I decide to get checked knowing that I’m AT LEAST a 6. She checks me and says, “You are about a 4! Jenna, that’s so great!”. I died a little and stormed out of the room and back into the bathroom to the shower.
“40% finished. In 5 and a half hours.”
I start doing the math and at this rate, maybe I’ll have the baby by noon. Where is my amazing, second baby labor?
That’s when I lost all excitement, positivity, momentum. Seriously!? 4 cm. I was so tired. Every time I had a contraction I was just thinking how it probably wasn’t even doing anything (insert eye roll). I wanted to be alone in the bathroom for a while to sulk by myself.
6am: I’m still laboring in the bathroom, sitting on the toilet when I hear Oliver wake up. I am so so upset by this. I imagined having Atlas before Ollie woke up so Oliver wouldn’t have to be gone and come home to a new baby. Oliver at this time still had awful separation anxiety, which means I had anxiety upon leaving my distressed babe. So I hear him wake up and he comes into the bathroom and I am overcome with so much love for him. He silently came over and just hugged me. Not letting go while I had a couple contractions.
I found this strength when he was with me because what mom wants to be in pain in front of their kids. I had to be strong, at least for him.
Daniel put on Toy Story while we waited for Tom and Yvonne to come pick him up. I moved to the bedroom and Ollie came in and was hugging me and holding me again. I swear, the contractions were so manageable with him around. When it was time for him to go, I heard him crying out the door saying, “No, Mama! No, Mama!” and my heart ached so bad. That contraction I had immediately after was so awful. I was over this.
7am: I got checked again and I was 6cm. I was begging my midwives if there was anything they could do to help me. The midwife suggested that she can try to help manually dilate me (while I have a contraction, she rubs and gently helps open the cervix). Yes, that sounds amazing. Let’s do this.
So with my next contraction, she is helping dilate my cervix and saying, “6, 6 and a half, 7, 7 and a half, 8. You’re at 8cm now. You’re in transition!”.
WHAT! That was so easy. She warned that it was still up to my body if it will hold and maintain the 8cm, but that was good enough for me. That gave me a boost I really, really needed.
8am: I am starting to have a difficult time finding a comfortable place to labor. The thought of getting in the shower makes me feel incredibly claustrophobic. I’m sick of sitting on the toilet. I don’t want to labor in our bedroom because I want a nice cozy, clean postpartum rest area. The living room isn’t cozy enough. So I go to Ollie’s room and feel so awkward. I try on the bed but that is the worst. I try kneeling over his little Poang chair but that’s the worst. When I was laboring with Ollie, I knew that the birth tub was the final place to go, but here I felt lost. I started having involuntary pushing so I had to find a place to settle because walking was killing me.
9am: I got checked again and I was over 9, but had an anterior lip. Again. Like Ollie’s. Where I was stuck for 10 hours.
I went to our bedroom and had my knees on the ground with my arms and head resting on our bed. I was laboring HARD (proven by my bruised forehead I discovered postpartum). This is when I started to scream during contractions. I had very bad back labor (Atlas was still slightly posterior) and I couldn’t find any relief.
I was praying all throughout labor and had gotten to the point where I was so angry with God. I thought we had a deal. This labor would be short, easy and healing and it’s not. Why aren’t You giving me grace and patience!? Etc etc etc.
“You ask and you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives…”
My water still hadn’t broken and I was asking for anything. For them to break my water. To take me to the hospital. Anywhere but here. My midwife said, “Okay let’s go through 3 more contractions and then we can talk about options.”. I was so angry! Don’t try to trick me. I know you are just postponing taking me because you think I can do this. I don’t care if you believe in me and my strength and have experienced women birthing thousands of times. I KNOW I need to get out of here. So 3 more contractions resulted in 3 more, and 3 more, and 3 more and I realized that I’m not going anywhere.
I go back to the bathroom and my water slightly breaks into the toilet. I keep reaching my fingers up to see if his head has entered the birth canal but it hasn’t.
9:30am: We move back to the bedroom and they suggest that they manually push the anterior lip out of the way while I push so the head can pass through. In order to do this, I’ll have to be on my back with my legs held up like you see in movies and tv shows. So I’m laying there, pushing away, screaming away, and he finally makes it though! I’m so happy it’s actually happening. I’m going to have Atlas in my arms. So soon. He starts to crown and they say, “Look at all that hair!” and I whimper and say, “I knew he’d have a lot of hair!” (I have a knack for accurately dream predicting what babies will look like). When I had Ollie in the water, I never experienced the “Ring of Fire” women always talk about. Well, I did for Atlas. Yes, yes I did.
I reached down and was supporting his head coming out and my midwife said to me, “How lucky is he that you are the first person to ever touch him.” Why are these midwives so good!? I couldn’t distinguish any features by touch. It all felt like wet mush down there, ha! The midwives are pouring olive oil all over to help ease the pain, friction, everything.
I get his head out! I thought the worst was over. Wait, why do his shoulder’s hurt even more!?
9:52am: As I’m giving my last, final push I feel his tiny little feet swimming his way out of my womb. He was still partially in the caul so he came out with a splash. I totally started whimper crying (so exhausted where I can’t even really cry with tears, but am so happy). I did it. We did it.
“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
That was the first verse I ever memorized at age 13ish when I started going to church. My Saint, my James the Less, always shows up in the most perfect way throughout my life.
After I had Atlas I felt so disappointed that I didn’t get the blissful second birth. I was disappointed that God didn’t grant me that. So a few months back I opened up the Bible and started reading James and just lost it. Every word was written for me and I was crying my eyes out realizing how selfish I was and how undeserving I was and how ungrateful I was. At that point, I realized without a doubt that we, as a family, need to buckle down and start going to mass and get our faith in order and put first.
“Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.”
My Atlas James.
The brother for my Ollie.
The perfect baby for our family.
Atlas’ birth greatly prompted Daniel and I pursuing the Catholic church. You can read about our conversion story here.